1. February 2015

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GMC to Dealers: Thoughts on Jeep Wrangler Competitor with Cues from HUMMER Brand?

GMC Concept Wrangler CompetitorThe HUMMER brand name may be gone – tossed out of General Motors’ portfolio along with Saturn and Pontiac, but rumors continue to swirl that may indicate the spirit of HUMMER still lives within the 2nd largest automaker in the world.

The Latest News

The latest is an article from The Wall Street Journal that indicates a “new vehicle” was discussed with dealers that “would borrow cues and capability” from the HUMMER brand. GMC has been working on such a vehicle in their design studio for nearly a year (that we know of), and the new boss at GMC, Duncan Aldred, mentioned working on new products like an “active all-road, Wrangler-esque type of vehicle,” in an attempt to shake the image that GMC can’t produce unique vehicles.

When there’s talk publically and privately about a potential new vehicle for an entire year, it typically indicates something very real. It’s not just idle conversation or design dreaming. More likely than not, it’s Aldred trying to make a name for himself and the GMC brand.

The Jeep Wrangler Market

US Jeep sales continue to climb – more than doubling their annual sales from 82,000 in 2009 to 175,000 in 2014. Those numbers reflect both an interest in lower-end, off-road capable vehicles and also Jeep’s dominance in that segment. Jeep currently has no direct competition.

The next closest in size and capability would probably be the Land Rover Evoque, which is nearly double the MSRP of the cheapest Jeep Wranglers and offers a more refined ride and stylish exterior – which is to say that it’s practically a completely different market. The Landrover Discover Vision concept may be getting closer, but even if that makes it to production, I still have a hard time putting it next to the Jeep Wrangler and calling it a true competitor.

GMC Wrangler Competitor Concept

Jeep has shown that there’s a market (and they own it) for inexpensive, off-road vehicles. Breaking into that market is easier said than done, and consideration to the following would be well advised:

Price Point:

It’s going to be difficult to beat the cheapest Jeep Wrangler on price alone. At an entry price of around $22k (well-equipped at $32), it’s going to be near impossible to differentiate on price. The best bet will be to come in at the same price point, or 2-3k higher, but make the step-up in price well worth it.

Exterior Styling

Jeep has a lock on the most iconic styling for about half a century. That said, it won’t be a sleek and stylish exterior that will win the hearts of this market or convert Jeep owners – it will need to look (and be) undeniably tough, rugged, and purpose-built. There must be no doubt upon seeing it that it is built for off-road driving. You need to be able to put it next to a Wrangler, and have people say they’d rather take the GMC off-road or through the snowstorm. This is a big reason why the H3 didn’t convert many Jeep owners. Yes, it was capable – but it didn’t look as capable to a layman. Laymans are the ones who make and break models and brands because they make up the majority of car buyers.

Capabilities

In order to win over the non-laymans (i.e., those who won’t be won over by styling alone), it needs to be a capable vehicle. The HUMMER HX had more impressive stats nearly all the way around when compared to the Jeep Wrangler (Approach angle, Departure Angle, Breakover Angle, and had 30% more ground clearance), and a GMC competitor would need meet or exceed a majority of these capabilities to truly convert those looking for an off-road experience.

Timing/Release Date

Jeep is set to overhaul the Wrangler for 2017. That said, overhauls to the Wrangler haven’t been as drastic as every other vehicle – with styling staying nearly the same and offering marginal improvements in capabilities and creature comforts. GMC would benefit from a release date not too far off. That’s easier said than done, since a concept hasn’t even been produced and displayed to gauge interest (unless they take the HX concept feedback as proof of concept, which, is probably true to an extent – hence them working on the new vehicle). In all likelihood, a GMC concept would be revealed at one of the major auto shows this year or next. Depending on how ‘production ready’ it looked would help determine an actual release date. 2017 would be very fast, but not impossible if they’re already green-lit the vehicle. 2018 would be much more likely, since there are currently no indications that a vehicle is out of concept stage at and into pre-production and regulatory testing.

Interior

Jeeps are notorious for having few creature comforts and having a cheap, plastic, rickety feel. Jeep fans would describe it as “no-frills” and “rugged” – but when I drive around town when I’m not off-roading (most of the time), that’s not the experience I want. I suspect I’m not alone. If GMC made the interior a little less chincy than the Jeep Wrangler, it would likely win over those who don’t spend a majority of their time offroad (nearly everyone).

Final Thoughts

Of all the recommendations above, exterior styling and price-point would be the most critical for success followed closely by capabilities and a few interior refinements. I know there are a lot of off-road warriors that will disagree, but until off-road warriors purchase the majority of vehicles, those priorities will allow a GMC competitor have a fighting chance against the Jeep Wrangler. If the vehicle is a success, it will allow for more investment and design upgrades to increase off-road capability down the line.

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11. November 2014

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GMC Inching Closer to Producing Jeep Wrangler Competitor

GMCHUMMERHX We’ve long talked about how HUMMER would make a resurgence under GM’s new structure, and it’s always centered around GMC. In fact, GM at one point considered never having HUMMER as a stand-alone brand, but rather releasing models under the GMC label (“e.g. GMC Moab). There were rumors in March about the GMC design studio producing a Wrangler-type competitor (read: HX/H4-like model) but naturally no one would confirm or deny those reports. Now, the new chief at GMC has gone on the record with Edmunds to say he wants to change the face of the brand, possibly through new products including “active all-road, Wrangler-esque type of vehicle.”

Duncan Aldred was named the US VP of GMC & Buick back in February, and a month later came the rumors out of the design studio of an Hummer-esque vehicle being worked on. If you haven’t already, check out the article from March that goes in-depth as to why this isn’t such a wild idea. We don’t believe timing isn’t coincidental, especially considering the latest quotes from Aldred.

“I have come here to do a job and change the face of the brand,” he told Edmunds. “We are looking at everything…What segments will grow? What segments will not? We are evaluating all possibilities that could really turbocharge the brand and the growth.”

In addition to the small off-road vehicle, a sub-compact crossover similar in size to the Buick Encore may also be in the works.

The bottom line is GMC is looking many different possibilities for new vehicles; not just in their current segments (which, primarily is shared chassis designs with Chevy). Aldred seems determined to make GMC stand alone, and a small, Hummer-type vehicle under the GMC nameplate would be one way of achieving that. Aldred would likely make a nice name for himself within the ranks if he was able to pull off a successful Jeep wrangler competitor, since the closest General Motors has ever come was in Hummer concept form.

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3. March 2014

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In-Depth: General Motors Designing HUMMER-Like Vehicle In GMC Design Studio

GMCHUMMERHX

Back in 2010 officials at General Motors said that releasing HUMMER models under the GMC badge was “discussed,” but that no plans existed to release any such vehicles “anytime soon.” Fast-forward four years and GMC designers are telling folks at The Car Guide that a vehicle following in HUMMER’s footsteps is currently being worked on.

According to the designer, it wouldn’t just be a re-badged Terrain with skid plates, but a brand-new design that would be in the same category with the Jeep Wrangler.

There are several reasons why this would make sense: [Continue Reading]

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17. February 2014

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HUMMER in 2014: Retaining More Value than Any Other Vehicle

HUMMER in 2014: Retaining More Value than Any Other Vehicle

“I have to confess, we checked the numbers a few times on that one,” said the VP of Research for Canadian Black Book about the HUMMER H2 retaining more value than any other vehicle. Black Book is well known among dealers in the US and Canada as a leading source of vehicle values for dealer […]

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2. August 2013

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Ohio Fire Deparment Mods Old Humvee into Brush Fire Truck

Thanks to last year’s chicken dinner, the Plymouth Fire Department was able to mod an H1 into a fire-fighting tool used for brush fires. We’ve seen some rescue-type Humvee/HUMMER H1 vehicles in the past, but never with sprayers like this. Given all the brush fires we’ve seen in Texas this year, this doesn’t seem like […]

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15. February 2013

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Civilian HUMVEE to Debut at Non-Civilian, Military Event in Abu Dhabi

AM General announced today that it will officially unveil its civilian offering, the HUMVEE C-Series, at the International Defense Exhibition & Conference in Abu Dhabi next week. The venue and locale isn’t an odd place for AM General to be exhibiting, but the choice to unveil a civilian model on the other side of the […]

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15. November 2012

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Rod Hall Returns to Baja 1000 with HUMMER H3

HUMMER may not be an official sponsor of Rod Hall Racing anymore, but that won’t stop Rod from running an H3 from his collection in this year’s Baja 1000. The 2012 Baja 1000 the 45th running of the famed race, and Rod has entered in every one – and been quite successful. Hall has captured […]

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12. November 2012

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HUMMER Seeking “Ultimate Fan” for Social Media Interaction

General Motors may not have any staff devoted to HUMMER anymore since ending production several years ago, but they still own the brand name and the legacy – both of which are valuable assets. The social media agency in charge of managing the HUMMER website and facebook page, which we’ve been sharply critical of in […]

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30. October 2012

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AM General Confirms HUMVEE C-Series Kit Car, Reveals Pictures, Opens Ordering

AM General Confirms HUMVEE C-Series Kit Car, Reveals Pictures, Opens Ordering

Would you like your HUMVEE in Khaki, Green, or Sand? Nearly three months to the day, AM General is making official the (previously “speculated”) story of their first civilian offering in over a decade: The HUMVEE C-Series Kit Car. According to the official release, the C-Series will share many parts with the military HUMVEE body […]

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30. September 2012

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Humvee C-Series Prototype Reveal at SEMA 2012

In just 30 days, we may have our first look at the Humvee C-Series Kit Car from AM General. AM General is reportedly planning on using the aftermarket accessory and car customization show as the site to reveal the civilian-oriented kit car that has been in the works all year. We haven’t had confirmation from […]

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13. August 2012

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Rod Hall Orders First Humvee C-Series Kit Car

Rod Hall Orders First Humvee C-Series Kit Car

Off-road racing legend Rod Hall is no stranger to the HUMMER brand. In 1992, he heard a rumor that AM General wanted to race their new civilian vehicle simply called a “HUMMER” in the Baja 1000. Hall’s racing preference has always been production vehicles, and after a few meetings with AM General – Rod Hall […]

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